McDonnell Douglas (MDC) has offered Poland final assembly of the F-18 fighter/attack aircraft, if it is selected to meet its fighter requirement. MDC says that Poland is the only one of the three Central European countries now considering the F-18 to ask for local final assembly and that, if selected, the aircraft would be assembled at PZL-Meilec.

The F-18 is being offered to the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland in competition with the French Dassault Mirage 2000-5, the Lockheed Martin F-16 and the Swedish Saab JAS39.

The industrial participation offered by each competitor will be a key part of the contest, and MDC signed a protocol agreement with the Hungarian Government on 5 December setting the ground rules for industrial offsets. This will enable MDC to gain credit for contracts placed before any decision is taken on a new fighter.

MDC will also open offices in Prague and Warsaw in December. The Czechs are expected to decide in favour of leasing fighters and to select an aircraft in mid-1997.

It is still expected that Poland will release a request for tender in mid-1997, leading to a decision by early 1998. Hungary's selection is based on a similar schedule, MDC believes.

The company says that the Czech air force has just completed a flight evaluation of the F-18 in the USA, with the Hungarian air force expected to look at the aircraft early in 1997. The Polish air force has already visited the USA to evaluate the F-18, MDC says.

Source: Flight International